A short history of Albanian communism

For almost half a century, Albania lived under the most outrageous communist system of Europe after the II World war .With the ending of II World war ,it was declared as the Popular Republic of Albania and Enver Hoxha as the leader ,ruled the country till his death in 1985,setting one of the most oppressive systems of Eastern Europe. Hoxha, a friend and follower of Stalin, did not believe in freedom of expression or thought.Instead, Hoxha believed in the independence and isolation of Albania. Bunkers still exist today, scattered throughout the country, constructed during the time to fend off invaders. But as the influence of foreign technology and advancements were kept away from Albania’s workers, industry and economy declined. Thousands of people were prisoned and deported, entire families were persecuted for even the slightest deviation “from the party line”. Because of its hostile policies against the “Imperialist West” and “Revisionists East”,

Albania remained the most isolated and poorest among the European countries. In order to enforce his radical program, Hoxha resorted to brutal Stalinist tactics. His government imprisoned, executed, or exiled thousands of landowners, rural clan leaders, Muslim and Christian clerics, peasants who resisted collectivization, and disloyal party officials. Private property was confiscated by the state; all churches, mosques, and other religious institutions were closed; and all cultural and intellectual endeavours were put at the service of socialism and the state. As ardent a nationalist as he was a communist, Hoxha excoriated any communist state that threatened his power or the sovereignty of Albania.

A comparison between the figures of persecution in Albania and other countries of eastern Europe was based on “Black Book of totalitarism”and “totalitarism of the twentieth century”.”The number of people persecuted was higher than in comparable countries other and the prevalence of crime is higher reference population .This came as a result of harsh war of classes.

The totalitarian system in Albania. Why was it different?

Albanian communism is well known for its peculiar form or another variant of anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism appeared after ideological row between the communist party of China and the Party of labour of Albania in 1978.The Albanians rallied a new separate international tendency. This tendency would demarcate itself by a strict defense of the legacy of Joseph Stalin and fierce criticism of virtually all other communist groupings as revisionist .Critical of the United States, Soviet Union, and China ,Enver Hoxha declared the latter two to be social-imperialist and condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia by withdrawing from Warsaw pact in response. Hoxha declared Albania to be the world’s only state legitimately adhering to Marxism-Leninism after 1978.The Albanians were able to win over a large share of the Maoists, mainly in Latin America such as the popular Liberation Army and Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, but also had a significant international following in general. This tendency has occasionally been labeled as “Hoxhaism”after him.

The Albanian totalitarian communist system represented some differences compare to the other communist countries of Eastern Europe.

1) It was set through a liberation war with some elements of a civil war (as in Yugoslavia)

2. It was on the longest and severe of the Stalinian style.

The executions, tortures and maltreatments, massive imprisonments for political reasons and family deportations of the inmates continued till the end of the ’80.

3) Extreme reforms were taken such as:

-total confiscation of private property

-prohibition to exercise private professions

-prohibition of religion

4) It has developed a fierce “class war”

5) It was the only communist country in Europe which applied the Chinese model of totalitarianism in the life style, art, politics etc.

6) The country was in total isolation for the outside world.

Types of political persecution


-Death penalty

-Imprisonment up to 25 years

-Deportation (in addition to the penalty)

Administrative Penalties:


-Forced labor

-Waiver of right to practice the profession (including art and sport)

-Dismissal from senior positions


-Pressure to get divorced

-Exception from universities

-Removal of right to have a pension

These penalties was not only given for the “activities” against the state or the party, but even for displaying different political ideas “or a bourgeois –revisionist” life style.

Who are we? The Institute for the studies of communist crimes (ISCC), mission and further Projects

On February 25, 2010 the Albanian Parliament, approve Law no.10 242 on “The Institute for the Studies of Communist Crimes and Consequences in Albania”. The Institute for the studies of communist crimes is working willingly and with great devotion, considering the most important mission that of clarifying the real documentations of all the criminal practices of Albanian Communism .Our projects range which we are working with-the sources of literature, the documents of Hermetic archives and the collection of testimonies from the dictatorship survivors –is very extensive and varied. We have encountered several problems like the ones with the distortion and manipulation of facts regarding all the period of the dictatorship; problems with the de-communistisation of textbooks and those of universities; pollution problems with the streets ,squares and institutions with the communist symbolism; problems with society consciousness facing the crimes; problems with the rehabilitation of democratic martyrs and the finding the remains of the executed during the dictatorship. We are just about to open a little bit curtain of the most brutal crimes committed to the Albanians for half a century.

ISCC is committed with legal experts to review the lustration law and to propose it again to the Parliament. We know that we have serious difficulties in the extraction of truths that lies in the archives. We seek means and opportunities for real research and finalize the projects, by passing the formal status of the Institute .In the conditions where Communism has left a heavy legacy, alive and intact(human, mental and emotional)we need models ,allies and contributors ,especially in the beginning of our efforts .So we will appreciate very much every form of cooperation.

Initiating and promoting, informing and networking are the guiding principles for the Institution. The ISCC collaborates as a partner with the Albanian Associations of ex-Persecuted of the dictatorship ,state and local governments ,the Directorate of Archives and independent archives, the Ministry of internal Affairs ,sufferers verbal evidence and witnesses, foreign archives, foreign press of the time ,the family archives ,the National Library, etc. And also we’ve been organizing panel discussions, conferences, and witnesses interviews. The institute is creating a specialized library and an archive of documentation service, books, documents and other materials including personal object of the prisoners or their families with a very intimate but also historical value.

The Institute will be publishing a Quarterly with extracts from the ISCC researcher’s projects, interviews and documentations.

Scientific Research

The promotion of scientific discussion of the causes, the history and consequences of the communist dictatorship in Albania is one of the central tasks of the Institute for the studies of communist crimes .With scarce funding supports the Albanian State for the ISCC researches, we are trying to promotes conferences and workshops, and awards printing costs in order to promote intra-scientific debate, but also the transfer of knowledge in the historical –political education and the public. From the variety of research topics projects two of the most important and long term projects of the ISCC are the “Encyclopedia of the Communist Genocide in Albania”. The whole history of Communist genocide in Albania has been proven up to now only by court Attestations, found in the archives of that time. This long period is only hinted at in our scholar textbooks; even the exact number of the victims of communist genocide is only imagined, as up to now no documents are found to contain the said data. A publication of an encyclopedia would do justice to the sufferers and would fill the gap of missing data, by making another wide ranging effort in this respect. Thus we consider the project of the compilation and publication of this encyclopedia of Albanian Communist Genocide as one of the most serious in the domain, covering both concrete names and acts, all Calvary of the victims and heroes.

And the second long term project one “Memory of survivors of the dictatorship”. This is an investigative information and awareness project about the communist genocide in Albania, displayed in all its forms throughout the communist period. Through this project, the Institute will make evident throughout the history of the first period perspective ,with oral and material evidence ,official or vivid testimony of the victims and their fellow, which will be processed in a scientifically and held an important place at the Institute’archive.This archive will serve as the basis for all other short-term projects of this institution: publications, conferences, Communist Genocide Museum, the encyclopedia of the communist crimes, the decommunistisation of schoolbooks, etc In the end we aim to publish this really important memories of the survivors research project as a book and in the same time accompanied by the DVD the audio/visual recording in the form of a short documentary. During the last twenty years of democracy, unlike the other former communist countries of Eastern Europe, Albania has not yet found a moral punishment of perpetrators of genocide communist, although it proved a place of wild forms of this genocide. This historical periodical, or very little reflected, or reflected in the literature truncated school and everywhere else. Intentional or not erasing the Historical memory, makes urgent need for a project which will be documented exactly that, to be able to reflect with lucidity politically in the present and future.

Some of the research projects planned to be published during 2012-2013

“Sequestration of the gold and the illegal treatment of the Albanian businessmen by the communist regime, during the post-war period”

“Sequestration, liquidation and the manipulation of the Intellectual property”

“First uprising and the anti communists revolts”

“The creation and function of the former State security”

“The struggle against the clergy and the religion”

“The voucher system in Albania”

Recollection of “Memoirs”

Meanwhile, this issue is a moral and civic obligation to the entire Albanian society has towards the persecuted class, an essential right in a democratic society, and as soon as done (being that few of them are still alive) the most reliable and complete will be the process of rewriting history.

Data on the communist persecution in Albania 1944-1991:

Executed: 5577 men 450 women

Prisoners: 26768 men 7367 women

Died in prisons: 977 men 7 women

Lost mental ability in prisons: 308 persons

Deportation /persecution: 48217 men 10792 women

Died in deportation: 7022 persons

These data are from 1993 and not yet a proper study is made. ISCC is aiming to make a detailed and update study on this issue.